||The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=25138.
Scions of Evil is a collaboration of many creative minds from the Raging Swan Press stable, a compilation of thuggery and villainy fit for all levels of play. With a staggering collection of stat-blocks, back-stories and brutal bad guys and gals–browsing the depths of this rather sizable collection one is sure to find compelling foils and antagonists to suit a given campaign.
Scions of Evil is, simply put, a massive collection of antagonists rife with crunch and flavor alike; from minions and fodder to full-on organizations, the spread of creativity and challenge ratings presented throughout make for a robust library of adversaries for adventurers of all levels of play–and foils for more storied plots as well. While primarily Scions of Evil is a compilation of previously released Raging Swan Press supplements under the same vein, a considerable amount of potent bonus material is included with some seriously wicked and powerful foes; that aspect coupled with having everything collated into one well-organized package makes this supplement a fantastic resource for expanding upon adventures and campaigns or building the foundations of the same.
Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
Raging Swan Press is well-versed and practiced in the editing room–and their high standards remain present here. Formatting largely adheres to a clean two-column layout, with a staggering number of stat blocks and reference points for game mechanics presented in a fashion that is concise and easy to work with. Additionally, plenty of artwork is interspersed among the many malicious individuals throughout the supplement–and finally, the PDF is thoroughly bookmarked, a must for navigating such a large compilation. Printing this beastly collection would be an endeavor, but the product is nevertheless printer friendly beyond being quite voluminous. Very well done on the whole.
Mechanics: 10 out of 10
In execution, the crux of Scions of Evil is coupling the clever and cruel with sound crunch by way of well-made stat-blocks–and in this regard, the supplement is a fine sum of its parts. There is certainly a distinction between different challenge levels–as generally speaking, minions and low-level miscreants are somewhat limited in the complexity they can be afforded while high-level villains have much more flexibility in this regard. That said, one of the things that I have traditionally enjoyed about the component products of this collection is that even ‘simple’ foes are presented with variety. For example, in the stead of just generic ‘goblin’ minions, we have four flavors of goblins: adepts, with a smattering of magical talent, raiders, scouts–skirmishers with tanglefoot bags and champions, tougher and better-equipped than most.
Villains arrive with an even more robust offering, presented with varying additional material such as adventure seeds, encounters (e.g. possible combinations of a given villain minions with encounter level), lore for adventurers to unearth, tactics for battle and plot hooks. Some of the entries also include GM notes with suggestions and advice for running a particular villain–and throughout the whole of Scions of Evil, each of the named adversaries also come with their own back-story, of course.
While the staggering spread of stat-blocks overall are solid and competently crafted, the higher level villains are definitely my favorites when it comes to raw mechanical crunch. Gahlgax Atarrith (who appears for free in Pathways magazine #16 if you’d like an example stat block) is a vampiric balor fighter and servitor of Orcus who arrives at a whopping challenge rating 23–and to make facing him all the more daunting, he is presented alongside ‘Swords of Orcus’–graveknight marilith antipaladins (CR 21 themselves) who pack a considerable punch. It’s foes like these that would make excellent opponents for high-level adventuring parties–and could also fit well into grand campaigns such as the Slumbering Tsar Saga by Frog God Games.
Others among the villains present similarly potent combinations. A Memory of Allwinter is an awakened demilich druid (CR 19) with wicked signature abilities; Vaerosk Ixuzygax is an aasimar half-fiend antipaladin (CR 15) and so on. From liches to witches, barbarians to balors–there is a breadth of bedlam-wreaking adversaries to machinate grand plots, orchestrate schemes and place adventurers in perilous predicaments; as suggested at the beginning of the product, one could approach the progression of power levels as a wheels within wheels sort of endeavor–a ruthless rabbit hole through which a party follows a trail climbing through the ranks of an evil organization along the way.
Value Add: 10 out of 10
It’s hard to go wrong with Scions of Evil when it comes to bang for one’s buck; the library of ready-to-use stat blocks alone are legion (135, for those keeping score) and the collected back-stories and pre-made organizations can suite a broad range of levels of play from low to high plateaus of adventuring. While there are certainly plenty of fairly straightforward foes throughout the product, the presented ‘persona’ villains are cleverly written and boast personality–and the methods and machinations these foils and antagonists could bring to a given campaign are well-realized and often inspiring. Adventure seeds, plot hooks, info-gathering lore and combat tactics all serve to add extra shine to the villains and personas–providing much flexibility for tailoring each into an existing story.
Overall: 10 out of 10
Scions of Evil is an impressive product, formed from the union of a number of Raging Swan Press’ already released and well-written GM resources. A collection of the works of many authors, this supplement is more than simply a compilation–re-organized, polished and presented in a fashion which serves as a powerful workshop for flavorful foes. It would have been simpler no doubt for Raging Swan to simply offer a discounted bundle of the prior products–but between the bonus material and the re-alignment of the material gleaned from each, Scions of Evil stands well on its own.
For one who may have already purchased the various components included in this compilation, re-acquiring them here may prove less desirable–but the added content is quite solid and I feel that having everything neatly organized in one source is a value unto itself. Whether perusing in a pinch to drop-in devious variations on simpler adversaries (spice up that pack of gnolls, goblins or kobolds with those of different roles, etc.) or pored over to plan a grand over-arching network of continent-spanning villainy, this supplement can serve as a powerful resource in any GM’s collection–and is one that I would definitely recommend picking up.
[5 of 5 Stars!]